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I have spent the last few late nights devouring Keith Richard’s autobiography: Life. Keith is the real thing and as a post-war narrative of UK-US politics and social evolution, Life is both unique and hugely entertaining. I am not the first one to pick on this: The Economist has penned an article focusing on Keith as a master manager of a difficult partnership. My leadership angle is that of flow. Research originally penned by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  at the University of Chicago convincingly makes the link between being in a state of flow and long term life satisfaction, including job engagement. But how do you describe flow? – It is this suspended state that we can all reach when we are deeply engaged in an activity that makes full use of our key strengths. Here is is our Rolling Stone’s version of it:

Levitation is probably the closest analogy to what I feel – whether it’s “Jumpin’ Jack” or “Satisfaction” or “All Down The Line” – when I realize I’ve hit he right tempo and the band’s behind me. It’s like taking off in a Learjet. I have no sense that my feet are touching the ground. I’m elevated to this other space. People say, “Why don’t you give it up?” I can’t retire until I croak. I don’t think they quite understand what I get out of this. I’m not doing it just for the money or for you. I’m doing it for me.

So how do you get into Keith’s state (legally)? – We can all do it, it is a question of knowing what really drives us. There are plenty of exercises in Averil’s Positive Psychology for Dummies. The important thing is to know that there can be beauty in a legal opinion, courage in an accounting statement or justice in a company restructuring. For most people in business this can be the equivalent of spirituality in open five-string guitar tuning…

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